The intent of this ad, this first entire campaign to use a gay couple, was to leverage the idea that gay men are tastemakers. Despite the plan, many of the ads fall back on gay stereotypes as the only source of humor.
As Holger and Max wear flashy country-style clothing, the German text "Nicht nur für echte Kerle" translates to: "Not only for real men" -- suggesting that gay men are not "real men."
(Separately, a 1996 German film called Echte Kerle"
is about a cop who befriends a gay man and learns tolerance, and that his tough work partner has been gay all along too.)
Guenter Sendlmeier, general manager of ad the agency McCann in Hamburg, told Euromarketing
, "We all know that gay couples are long accepted in our society and they have become the substitute for good taste, particularly in the fashion and art world. They are known for their sense of good food. Even very conservative women agree."
Peter Stachowiak, a spokesman for Iglo, told Agence France Presse, "We're trying to sell a new generation of products, upmarket food, aimed at the housewife. We thought the image of the gourmet homosexual living in an elegant interior fitted the mood of the times."
A newspaper in Germany, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
. reported of the ads: "In the beginning, the creators of the campaign were not quite certain whether they had judged the degree of social acceptance correctly, or whether they were asking too much of their audience. They were afraid that their own perception might be blurred, 'because there are many openly gay men in the media scene.'
The agency carried out a market survey to make sure. The results proved that housewives, pensioners, young people, working men and women unanimously agreed: Homosexual men are affectionate, helpful, well dressed, appreciative of good food and have good taste. Almost all of those questioned said that they know gay men personally.
Now, Volker Nickel, secretary of the German Advertising Federation, expects that other advertising agencies will follow suit and feature homosexual couples as well.
The paper also reported that Volker Beck, the Greens' parliamentary spokesman on legal affairs and a board member of the Lesbian and Gay Association of Germany, wrote a note of thanks to ad agency McCann-Erickson. The gay community is glad about any commercials that show "gay normality," a spokeswoman of the organization said.
As it turns out, the actor who plays Holger also plays a straight father in a cough syrup commercial.